What Does “System Fault” Mean on a Ford Explorer?

The Ford Explorer is a dependable road buddy. However, like with any machine, it may fail to work as planned. One such issue is the Ford Explorer’s starting system fault.

If the starting system fails, starting the engine will be difficult. Here’s everything you need to know about this issue, including what causes it.

Starting System Fault Ford Explorer

What Does “System Fault” Mean on a Ford Explorer?

The diagnostic “System Fault” message signals a problem with the vehicle’s starting system or associated systems. It can be caused by several reasons, such as a bad battery, faulty starter motor, starter solenoid failure, wiring issues, or ignition switch failure.

The starting mechanism is quite sophisticated, relying on numerous unique parts to start the engine. Your car will not start if any of these components fail to function correctly. As a result, a starting system fault on your Ford Explorer will happen.

How the Starting System in Ford Works

A Ford vehicle’s starting system consists of the following components: a battery, a starter motor, a starter solenoid, an ignition switch, and the cabling that links these components.

When the ignition switch is turned to “start,” a signal is sent to the starting solenoid.

The signal is received by the starting solenoid, which shuts a series of contacts, enabling electrical current to flow from the battery to the beginning motor. The starting motor then turns the engine on, allowing it to start.

When the engine starts, the ignition switch is depressed, and the starting solenoid unlocks its connections, cutting power to the starter motor.

This system is essential for starting the engine and must function properly for the car to start. If any of these components fail, the vehicle may not start or may start slowly or with difficulty.

What Causes the Starting System Fault Error on a Ford Explorer?

A Ford Explorer’s “System Fault” error message can be triggered by several problems with the starting system or other associated systems. The most prevalent reasons include the following:

Faulty Starting Motor

If the starter motor fails to rotate the engine, the engine will not start and a “System Fault” error message will be shown.


The engine will not start if the battery is not powerful enough to turn the starter motor. This issue may be caused by a dead battery or damaged parts.


Damaged or corroded wiring might cause electrical problems that affect the operation of the starting system, resulting in a “System Fault” error message.

Starting Solenoid Failure

If the starter solenoid fails to function correctly, it will prevent electrical power from passing from the battery to the starter motor, resulting in a “System Fault” error message.

Ignition Switch failure

If the ignition switch is not functioning properly, it may not deliver the right signal to the starting solenoid.

Ford Explorer Starting System Fault

How To Fix Ford Explorer Starting System Fault

Follow these methods to resolve a “Starting System Fault” problem notice on a Ford Explorer.

Check the Battery

Ensure that the battery has sufficient charge to start the engine. If the battery is dead or in poor condition, it may need to be charged or replaced.

Examine the Starting Motor, Starting Solenoid, and Ignition Switch

If the starting motor is not operating correctly, it may need to be replaced by a mechanic. And if the starting solenoid is filthy or not working correctly, it may need to be cleaned or replaced. You’ll also need to check if the ignition switch needs a replacement.

Inspect the Wiring

Periodically inspect the wiring for damage or corrosion and repair or replace any damaged wiring to prevent electrical issues.

Keep the Starter Motor Clean

Dirt and debris can accumulate on the starter motor, impacting its performance. Regularly cleaning the starter motor can help prevent starting system failure.

Use Quality Fuel

Using low-quality or contaminated fuel can cause engine problems that can affect the starting system. Using high-quality fuel can help prevent these issues.

Regular Maintenance

Scheduling regular maintenance appointments with a qualified mechanic or auto shop can help identify and address any potential starting system issues before they become more serious.

By following these steps and staying on top of routine maintenance, you can help prevent starting system failures in your Ford Explorer and keep it running smoothly.

System Starter Fault ReasonsSolutions
Dead batteryChange/recharge the battery
Alternator issuesChange or clean the alternator
Clogged fuel filterA filter change is needed
Loose cableCheck and tighten the cables
Defective spark plugsCheck and tighten the spark plugs
Broken starter motorHit the motor with a stick

How To Avoid Starting System Failure?

Here are some strategies to avoid a Ford Explorer starting system failure:

Maintain the Battery

Check the charge level of the battery on a regular basis, and clean the terminals to avoid corrosion.

Maintain the Starter Motor’s Cleanliness

Dirt and debris can collect on the starter motor, reducing its effectiveness. Cleaning the starter motor regularly can assist in preventing starting system failure.

Inspect the Wiring

Regularly check for damage or corrosion, and repair or replace any damaged wiring to avoid electrical problems.

Use High-quality Gasoline

Using low-quality or contaminated fuel might lead to engine difficulties that disrupt the starting mechanism. Using high-quality gasoline can assist to avoid these problems.

Regular Maintenance Appointments

A trained technician can assist in identifying and addressing any possible starting system issues before they become more serious.

You can help prevent starting system failure in your Ford Explorer and keep it operating smoothly by following these procedures and staying on top of scheduled maintenance.

When To See a Mechanic

Here’s when to see a mechanic for a starting system failure.

When the Engine Won’t Start

You should see a mechanic if your engine won’t start, as it could be a sign of a problem with the starting system. Also, check for the warning light on the dashboard. If a warning light, such as the “Starting System Fault” light, appears on the dashboard, it’s a good idea to have a mechanic diagnose the issue.

Strange Sounds

Always be wary of strange sounds. If you hear strange sounds coming from the engine, such as grinding or clicking, it may indicate a problem with the starting system and a mechanic should be consulted. Be aware of engine stalls or misfires.

If the engine stalls or misfires while driving, it could be a sign of a starting system issue or a more serious problem with the engine.

Strange Smells

There also might come a time when there are unusual smells. If you notice unusual smells, such as burning or gasoline, it could indicate a problem with the starting system or another engine component.

Consulting a Mechanic

If you have any of these problems, you should consult a mechanic as soon as possible. A trained mechanic can troubleshoot the issue and make the required repairs to keep your Ford Explorer running properly.

Company websites like Repair pal and Car repair provide professional advice and guidance on car repair. You can use these websites to get an estimate for the cost of repairs and find a trusted repair shop in your area.

Many car manufacturers have a dedicated section on their websites for technical support and troubleshooting.

As such, you should explore Ford’s website to check for any location- or model-specific information on your car’s warranty, repairs, and common issues. Here, you may also find manuals that provide step-by-step instructions, diagrams, and photos to help you understand the problem and resolve it.

Final Thoughts: Starting System Fault Ford Explorer

The Ford Explorer is a popular car known for its performance and reliability. However, you may encounter the “System Fault” error when starting your car. This issue may be caused by a faulty starter motor, wiring issues, ignition switch failure, a bad battery, or starter solenoid failure.

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Author: DJ

Dave Junior is a hands-on automotive technician with experience in performing service, diagnostics, and repairs on domestic and imported vehicles. He enjoys writing and sharing his knowledge far and wide.

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